Tom Cruise is presented with a Certificate of Irish Heritage by then-Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore. The certificate of heritage program is being discontinued.Photocall Ireland

The Irish government has announced that the Certificate of Irish Heritage is officially over, effective August 24.

The certificate, which has been handed out to luminaries including Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Tom Cruise and Caroline Kennedy, was launched in 2011. The aim of the program was to give the Irish diaspora and those of Irish descent – particularly those ineligible to apply for Irish citizenship – a formal way of celebrating their Irish heritage.

Former Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore presents the first Certificate of Irish Heritage to Joseph Hunter's family. Hunter was an Irish American victim of the 9/11 attacks.

Former Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore presents the first Certificate of Irish Heritage to Joseph Hunter's family. Hunter was an Irish American victim of the 9/11 attacks.

Since the launch, only 3,000 certificates have been purchased – about 1,000 in the first year of the initiative, and just 179 to date in 2015. The certificates cost $45 (€40) for an unframed certificate and $133 (€120) for a framed one.

“The uptake of the Certificate of Irish Heritage has been considerably less than anticipated. No further Certificates will be available for purchase after 24 August 2015,” the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced yesterday.

The statement noted that the certificates had been created to offer “a practical expression of the importance the Government attaches to recognizing people of Irish descent and encouraging people to trace their roots.

“It was never anticipated that the Certificate of Irish Heritage would provide significant revenue to the Government,” the DFA added, also noting that the program had not cost the Irish taxpayer anything substantial, with the government spending $4,200 (€3,800) total on website maintenance and travel expenses for meetings over the course of four and a half years.

Caroline Kennedy receives a Certificate of Irish Heritage from Minister Jimmy Deenihan. Photo: Photocall

Caroline Kennedy receives a Certificate of Irish Heritage from Minister Jimmy Deenihan. Photo: Photocall

Next Monday, August 24, will be the last day Certificates of Irish Heritage will be available for purchase online, with the last certificates to be produced by September 3, when the Irish government’s contract with Fexco, the private, Kerry-based company that handled the certificates, expires.

The Irish government will retain the ability to make the special “presentation certificates” that have been gifted to celebrities with Irish roots – including President Obama, Tom Cruise, and William C. Ford, Jr., executive chair of Ford Motor Company and great-grandson of the company’s founder Henry Ford.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny presents President Barack Obama with his Certificate of Irish Heritage on St. Patrick's Day. Photo: Photocall Ireland

Taoiseach Enda Kenny presents President Barack Obama with his Certificate of Irish Heritage on St. Patrick's Day. Photo: Photocall Ireland

The Certificate of Irish Heritage program may not be gone for good, however, as the government said it would perform further analysis on how the members of the large Irish diaspora are seeking to assert their Irish identity.

Did you purchase a Certificate of Irish Heritage? What are other ways you might prefer to celebrate your Irish heritage? Join the discussion in the comment section, below.